It began with an electronic license plate-reader telling cops a man had stolen a car, and ended with him facing a charge of first-degree premeditated attempted murder. In between, there was a chase, car crashes, a cop firing his weapon and several people jumping a fence onto the carefully manicured lawn where the University of Miami Hurricanes play baseball.
It may have seemed like Wile E. Coyote was chasing the Road Runner during rush hour in Coral Gables Tuesday night —except this pursuit had real-life consequences. Miraculously, no one was killed and the only injuries were to an officer who broke his hand and some cuts and bruises suffered by two motorists.
“It was a busy time of day, so it wasn’t like high speed,” said Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak. “He was stuck in traffic. As the officers approached, he literally drives up towards one of them on the curb.”
In the end, Richard Grissom-Rodgers, 21, whose past includes convictions for stealing cars and weapons possession, was tackled to the ground by police on San Amaro Drive and escorted to jail. His charges include premeditated first-degree attempted murder on an officer, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault on law enforcement and grand theft.
A judge denied him bond.
“He intentionally tried to run over an officer,” said Coral Gables police spokeswoman Kelly Denham.
According to police and witness accounts, it was 6:45 p.m. when Coral Gables officers received an alert that a 2011 silver Toyota Camry stuck in traffic on South Dixie Highway was a stolen vehicle. When officers approached on foot, police said, Grissom-Rodgers steered the car onto a curb directly toward them. An officer fired his weapon into the vehicle. It missed Grissom-Rodgers.
The Toyota “was taken in a carjacking and possibly tied to other robberies,” Hudak said.
Close to the University of Miami, Grissom-Rodgers steered the Camry along Ponce de Leon Boulevard toward the baseball field. Other Coral Gables officers pursued. The Camry struck several cars along Ponce de Leon, injuring a couple of drivers.
When the car finally stopped under the Metrorail tracks across the street from the ballpark, police said Grissom-Rodgers ran. Cops gave chase. First they jumped a fence onto Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. Then they jumped a fence exiting the ballpark.
Finally, along fraternity row on San Amaro Drive, Grissom-Rodgers was tackled by police and taken into custody. Officer Alex Toledo broke his hand in the scuffle. He’s since been released from the hospital.
Denham said the officer had no choice but to fire his weapon toward Grissom-Rodgers.
On his arrest affidavit, police said Grissom-Rodgers told them he drove toward the officer who fired his weapon “because it was either the officer’s life, or his life.”